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In the HAUS

Meet Houston’s first housing co-op.

Technically, this is HAUS, the Houston Access to Urban Sustainability Project, a housing co-op for those willing to work for their cheap rent and board by making meals, cleaning toilets and recycling – lots of recycling.

The three founders, who had lived in or visited co-ops in other cities, began working on the concept in 2010. They wanted to create a home that was kind to the environment, affordable and close to public transportation and light rail.

One of them had purchased an old house on Rosalie in Midtown. They wanted to fill it with like-minded individuals who would promise to do things like plant gardens, hang their clean clothes outside to dry and use bikes to get around as much as possible.

“What I love about what they’re doing is they’re walking the talk,” said Laura Spanjian, the city of Houston’s sustainability director, whose job is to focus on helping “green” the city through improving air quality, energy efficiency and recycling, among other efforts.

The house itself is a sharp contrast to the fancy townhomes that have cropped up around it.


The housemates take their mission seriously.

Everyone who moves in is required to sign a “sustainability pledge.” Applicants must attend at least two house dinners before being accepted.

Everyone shares in running the houses.

Many of the residents hold officer positions to manage such house operations as maintenance, gardening and the kitchen.

The “labor czar” makes sure everyone is doing their share of the housework.

Each person is responsible for contributing five hours of labor to the house per week.

The Press wrote about HAUS back in 2011. They’ve since expanded to a second house. I might have found this appealing when I was single – I had at least one roommate for eight of the ten years I lived here before I was married, and I like the idea behind HAUS. Obviously, this isn’t for everyone. It’s a niche market, but the niche is likely to grow. People are staying single longer, and there’s a lot more interest these days in living in the urban core, near transit, but there’s a shortage of affordable housing, at least at this time. There’s a lot to like about this if you’re a fit for what they’ve got to offer. If that describes you, go to their website and put in an application. I wish these folks all the best.

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